FROM THE COVER:
According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie – she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.
My rating: 4 stars.
Ockler’s descriptions go above and beyond; they’re heartfelt, beautiful, real. Right off the bat they sucked me into the story, transporting me from Anna and Frankie’s town in New York right to Zanzibar Bay with them. You’d think there could only be so many ways to describe a beach and its town, but Ockler takes it that one step further – almost like providing me with a piece of it.
As far as characters go, Anna and Frankie are typical teens. Anna’s more thoughtful and sincere, while Frankie’s a wild-child. But it was Matt that really made the story for me, even though his actual presence is limited – he’s incredibly realistic in both action and personality: boyish but caring, immature but mature, spontaneous but planned. He’s a mixture of so many things all at once, and for so little time, but that’s what makes him perfect. Other characters, like Sam, were nice, but seemed to be trying too hard to mimic what Matt was for Anna. Because of this, I never felt all that attached to them.
The story itself keeps a very steady pace once they reach Zanzibar Bay, chugging along in an almost real-time manner. While this worked in some spots, in others it did not. There were times when unimportant things to the story, such as when the girls applied their makeup, dragged on.
But I’m glad the “twenty boys in twenty days” situation doesn’t go overboard. Ockler could’ve pushed it to the extreme, but doesn’t. And it makes sense the way it ends up. However, the ending was a bit iffy. I’m not all for random blow-ups and surprises without any warning or buildup, but that’s exactly how it goes. Everything, in a rush, explodes and resolves at the end – which wasn’t by any means terrible, it just happened to leave me with a more sad than happy feeling once finished.
Either way, Ockler manages to take the simple premise of Twenty Boy Summer and take it to the next level. Very reminiscent of Sarah Dessen’s works.